New York- Film scholar Bahman Maghsoudlou, whose Manhattan video retail store International Film & Video Center is nationally recognized for its focus on classic and foreign films, is moving toward the first half of his company name.
While planning consolidation of his two small 1st Avenue locations into a single bigger dealership, Maghsoudlou is executive-producing Manhattan By Numbers, the first English-language film by acclaimed Iranian director Amir Naderi, who now lives in New York. Due for theatrical release early next year, the project will be followed by Maghsoudlou’s second Naderi-directed production, The Tenth Symphony. Both will extend International Film & Video’s retail strengths into the supply side.
“The Center is a great library for the treasures of the history of cinema,” says Maghsoudlou, also an Iranian expatriate, who has written and lectured about movies throughout the world, and has directed and produced programming for Iranian television. “I want to contribute to it myself, not only to satisfy my own taste in low-budget art films, but as a continuation of my background and experience.”
Maghsoudlou, who has acted and written Subjective Cinema In Hitchcock’s Films and Analysis Of Iranian Cinema After The Revolution, has a most fitting collaborator in Naderi, whom he profiled in print for the 1990 Pesaro Film Festival. Naderi’s 1985 film The Runner about a street kid’s gritty fight for survival was the first post-revolutionary film released outside Iran, and won Grand Prix at the Nantes Film Festival. Water, Wind, Sand was similarly decorated for its stark portrayal of a young man searching for his family in a barren desert. Naderi, described by Maghsoudlou as a visualistic director who has been compared with Antonioni, will be the subject of a retrospective in New York next year.
Manhattan By Numbers was produced for less than $1 million and involves a day in the life of a laid-off newspaper writer (played by stage actor John Wojda) forced to traverse New York from Harlem to Wall Street in hopes of gathering enough money to pay rent.
“I want to select a good story, work with a great director, and keep the budget down,” says Maghsoudlou, who first met Naderi when the director was a still photographer in Iran in 1969. The Naderi-penned The Tenth Symphony, he adds, concerns a deaf and dumb Native American boy who creates Beethoven’s music. It will be shot at a Southwestern desert location for under $1.5 million.
Maghsoudlou, who has the home video and theatrical rights to Water, Wind, Sand, controls both for the Naderi productions. He now hopes to continue producing art films of like budget and quality at the rate of one per year.
His titles will fit in nicely when he finishes expanding and renovating his current New York headquarters to absorb a sister location two blocks up. His company was recently cited among the 10 best video stores in the country by Entertainment Weekly, and just made the mail-order listings of the 1993 edition of Leonard Maltin’s Movie And Video Guide.
“The video business is down, but we survive because we specialize and provide a service,” says Maghsoudlou. “The megastores have 10,000 tapes and 2,000 titles. We have 14,000 tapes, 13,000 titles.
Maghsoudlou boasts inventory on every classic art house, Hollywood, and foreign film. New releases, not a major International Film concern, are generally carried in one-to-three copy depth. The store used to offer a catalog breaking down its holdings by country, director, and actor, but now sells the Maltin book instead. Still, the vital statistics are stored in the store’s computer to assist in-store customers and callers.
“We can locate anything on tape in half an hour – if it’s available,” says Maghsoudlou, who promises to obtain any requested sale title within two days. One recent customer, he recalls, was Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes, who called up seeking Fellini’s Il Bidone, came in with his driver an hour later, and after a second trip the following day, walked out with $2,000 in videos.
Maghsoudlou, incidentally, is not the only video retailer who’s entered film production. Peter Balner, who heads the Palmer Video chain, is preparing two shoots, one a $3.5 million feature on the last 10 days of Edgar Allan Poe’s life, the other a Quasidocumentary comprising stories from people who know famous people.
Billboard, October 1992